Sunday, March 12, 2006

I Wont Wear the Union Jack
The GM Unplugged gig was undoubtedly a success – packed out with people and the music was amazing. I am trying to think of a category to put the music in; yes it was acoustic and I guess kind of folky, but that feels a little constraining, in the context of the gig, with a rapt audience, it was just powerful and intimate music. That was its genre.

The Blue Sequoias went first and the duo really do create an amazing harmony. The band are two women, one with guitar and one swaps between fiddle and piano. Their songs are sometimes funny, sometimes sad and all were engaging. The harmonies just picked you up with them and carried you along. Well worth the journey. Superb.

Next up was Tracey Curtis. I am a fan of David Rovics and I knew that Tracey has played with him, so I guess I was expecting a similar standard of music and lyrical excellence. I was not disappointed. She was amazing. One song of hers, 'I Wont Wear the Union Jack' particularly grabbed me. I had an small argument with a family member about a year ago that got heated when I said I didn't support England in the football. Its not that I support any other team; just that I don't care who wins. I am not proposing to be a killjoy over football, I am glad that people enjoy it. It is just that it does not interest me at all and so I don't see any reason why I should suddenly take an interest in a game that bores me just become England are playing. In this argument was trying to convey that while I am proud of my community and would seek to defend it, I can't expand that idea to the country because at that level it becomes abstract and not that dissimilar from a religion. At a national level; what does patriotism mean? Love the government? 'Cause I don't. I voted tactically against them. Love the democratic system we have? 'Cause I don't, its not a democracy in any sense of the word I understand. Love the works of Shakespeare? Its great stuff, but I am personally no more linked to its creation than I am to the works of Goethe or Flaubert. Anyway, this is my point; Its not easy to encapsulate anti-patriotism without people getting upset you are anti-them. Tracey's song makes this point really well (and very beautifully); "I can't be proud of a country that is causing pain, and we've done it again and again...I love our rivers, love our coastline, what's left of out green, but I won't wear the Union Jack..."

At the gig one of the Shepton Mallet protestors fighting the Tescopoly told me that the new store would destroy the area where the first world war soldiers from the town marched off. If anything is anti-patriotic, I guess this must be it – the burying of a common culture under a bland identikit (not to mention pointless) supermarket. The protestors chances of winning this battle are not good, but we can still win the war, as long as people still care about the land more than they care about three for two offers. It is in the fighting that we stop them from winning.

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